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Polyphyly of Polycarpon (Caryophyllaceae) inferred from DNA sequence data

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A phylogenetic study of the genus Polycarpon was made using DNA sequence data from the chloroplast rps16 intron and nuclear RPB2 regions. Polycarpon as currently recognised is shown to be polyphyletic. The South American species P. coquimbense and P. suffruticosum are more closely related to Haya obovata (Socotra) and Polycarpaea spicata (paleotropical) than to the remaining species of Polycarpon, and the widespread tropical species P. prostratum is nested with Macaronesian species of Polycarpaea. All three should therefore be excluded from Polycarpon. The remaining species, the P. tetraphyllum group, has its main diversity in the Mediterranean region. It is a polyploid complex with morphologically very similar taxa mostly separated only by partially overlapping characters. The members of this group form a strongly supported, but largely unresolved clade. It is proposed that they are all included in a widely circumscribed P. tetraphyllum. The dehiscence of the capsules in P. tetraphyllum, by valves that elastically roll inwards and finally throw out the seeds, is unique in Caryophyllaceae and provides a strong synapomorphy for Polycarpon in this new restricted sense.
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Keywords: CARYOPHYLLACEAE; MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETICS; PARONYCHIOIDEAE; POLYCARPON; RPB2; RPS16; SEED DISPERSAL

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Systematic Botany, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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